Facebook Friends and Enemies: Cyber Alert

Photo Credit: craigCloutier via Compfight cc

I admit it. I am a Facebook junkie.

It all started for me back in ’08. I was living in Australia, and I yearned for a homeland connection.

At first, the thrill of the adventure was so exciting that I could barely contain myself. Within days, I was in contact with people that I had forgotten meant so much to me. Old faces marched across my screen carrying the memories attached to them. Initially, the main thrust of my new Facebook friends came from my days in NYC and Paris. The flashbacks were extreme. Photos came fluttering in and all of a sudden there I was 24 years old again, sitting amongst the who’s who at some fab restaurant, a member of the jet-set.

The rush was strong.

After a while, old classmates started popping up. I was never popular at school, but judging by the friend requests that came in, from “kids” that I used to think were stinkers, it became apparent that I was being admired from afar.

Family members, long-lost cousins, old friends, and people that I had a passing interaction with smiled at me waiting for acceptance.

Finally, it dawned on me (a bit late, but still) that Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool that can be utilized to create marketing miracles. Being a fourth generation salesperson, the thrill of the catch, the pitch, and the potential win/win set me on fire!

I went ballistic.  I figured that if my new cyber buddy had anyone in common with me, they were safe. Besides, I was doing research.  All in the name of business mind you.

I was hooked.

The possibilities in my mind were endless. A new business merger perhaps? Maybe an endorsement deal (which did, in fact, happen)?

Connections are queen!   Why not groom the royal court? Just in case, just to see what can happen. Curious, oh I was so very curious.

Then the worm turned.

Things have become weird. My cyber circle has been infiltrated and contaminated.

Incident 1:

I received a personal message from a newbie friend regarding my FACE being used on an upscale dating site. WTF? This new friend forwarded me all of the details.

There I was on some swanky NYC dating site. Some talented jerk poached my FB profile picture and used it to lure customers.  The “about me” was shocking. Apparently, I was available for threesomes, up for anything wild, ready for action. Holy crap.

I contacted the Dating Agency, of course no one answered. I harassed the living daylights out of their answering machine. To no avail.

My new friend, the “whistleblower”  said that he was furious with the site, because HELLO he had requested a date with ME. Someone shorter, darker, heavier and accentuated with random facial hair showed up at his door instead.

How weird is that?  False advertising and identity theft. Nice.  And yes, knowing that my new “friend” would consider me his latest wet dream garnered him the flick! BLOCKED.

Incident 2:

Lavish loving posts were being sent my way. They were messages from a woman, who was, of course, a friend of many of my friends. She was generous with compliments. She was encouraging. She was just the type of friend that everyone would want. As our relationship blossomed, she began mentioning a foundation that she was diligently putting together.

The Royal Family was involved. The United Nations was involved. Her foundation was going to change the world. Her organization would save children and animals. Her foundation was also going to celebrate icons of fashion.

The government of Poland was behind her foundation. The media was lined up; the press was already holding their breath.

The red carpet, decorated with a constellation of Celebrities from around the world, had to be extended.  I was invited to be the media guru for this world-changing event. My job would be one of appanage. I would be front and center reporting to the world, hobnobbing with celebs and sharing all the details with you dear reader via whatever outlet available. What a privilege.

It got even better.

The Queen of England, yes you read that right was interested in granting an interview, my “friend” was connected.

That’s right about the time that I started seeing pigs fly. 

Another Facebook friend (a real one, a tangible-I-actually-knew-her) sent me a message written in sheer panic. This person who was promising the world on a golden platter was an impostor. She was vicious. She was threatening my real friend. She used one  Facebook connection to garner another.

She was a fraud.

In fact, we started pondering was this nasty imposter even a woman?  “She” could have been a man. Putting two and two together, it dawned on us that we had never actually seen a recent picture of our flamboyant do-gooder.

No one had ever spoken to “her” on the phone. Where did she live? What country, city, back alley did “she” spring forth from?

There we were, the both of us getting sucked into a web of grand dreams; we were ripe for the picking.

The good news as far as I am concerned is that I never gave wacko my address. I cannot say the same for my comrade.

Of course, we BLOCKED and deleted our connection with this phantom.  The creepiest thing of all is the fact that the impostor was able to connect with our family members and other friends. Just like that, she is here to stay.

Incident 3:

A couple of weeks ago I started receiving private messages … click … behold a woman with her ass bared, winking at me with her third eye. Her name? Julie Anderson. The person who sent it to me was a man, probably praying to God that this picture was depicting me in my new line of work. He was erect with the fantasy that his wish was about to come true. Of course, I set him straight and blocked his ass too.

Incident 4:

My Facebook profile started to receive a barrage of photos that had were tagged with my name. 

The tagged images depicted almost-naked chicks, doing the nasty in some random hotel room. WTF?

I sent a message to the person who was tagging this crap, asked him what his point was and demanded that he STOP it right now. I untagged everything. PING. The photos bounced back.

Jerk-off never responded to my message. Upon further inspection, it turns out that this individual is also an associate with a gaggle of my  Facebook friends. People that I know, in REAL LIFE, have fallen prey to him. Again, another impostor had infiltrated my sacred bubble of Facebook land.

Incident 5:

I had no idea that the worst possible Facebook “friend” that anyone would encounter was about to rear his ugly head.

I woke up one morning with a cryptic message waiting for me in PM land. This time, the message came from someone I know, someone who I have worked with, someone real.

She was giving me the heads up on a monster that has been masquerading around our inner circle. I always thought this dude was odd, but hell when I checked out his “friends list” they were all my REAL buddies, so I just chalked him up as an eccentric. I can do eccentric. I am used to them, in fact, some would say that I am an eccentric as well.

In this case, eccentric is not the right word to describe him. This person is/was a pimp. This person is/was a drug dealer. This person is most definitely a pedophile. Out of his deranged mouth, the vilest words have spewed. He has threatened to “cut that bitch up.” He has asked that one of our mutual friends send her ten-year-old daughter his way. That friend filed a restraining order against him.

In an attempt to protect the innocent, I put a new status up announcing that a psychotic freak is amongst us. (I kept his name out of it.) I invited those that are interested in his identity to send me a private message.

Some of my friends have suggested that I name and shame him publicly.

Here is the rub on that:

I could be sued for defamation of this asshole’s character!


It gives me the creeps to think about how I invited this freaky stuff into my world, by accepting unknown individuals into my inner circle based on the friends we have in common. A stupid mistake that I will never make again.

Will I deactivate? I should, but I won’t. I do too much business with the damn thing.

I rely on it to keep up with the lives of those that I love. It makes the distance between those that I care about nonexistent. I feel connected.

Sometimes, I even feel like some of my Facebookers are my family. I have also made incredible connections that are tangible.

My relationship with Facebook is a complicated one.  

The lunatic fringe has taken over everyone’s favorite social connector. Now the experience has become a nightmare. 
A nightmare that one billion people willingly join in on, EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

Where are the cyber bouncers when we need them?


Julie Anderson

Julie Anderson is the Creator and Publisher of Feminine Collective. Julie was inspired to create this safe place for women to share their secrets, desires, triumphs and pain as the antithesis of what mainstream media offers women today. In her column Pursuit of Perfection, she explores the importance of rectifying the balance of inner and outer beauty through essays, poems and articles on self-esteem, shame, family, and self- acceptance.

14 thoughts on “Facebook Friends and Enemies: Cyber Alert

  1. Christi

    I completely understand where you are coming from. I felt the same way about Facebook at first as well. It’s terrible what people can get away with these days behind a computer screen that can do more emotional damage than something physical like a car crash. And, like you said, you trust these people because they are your friends and after engaging with them for so long, they do develop into quite deep friendships and relationships. So, you do let your guard down when you see that someone else’s name is associated with your friend’s. You naturally assume that a friend of theirs would naturally be a friend of yours. Again, another way that people can take advantage of others behind the protection and mask of a screen and a screen name, without ever having to look anyone in the face because if they had to do that, you can imagine how the amount of these types of incidents would decrease. It’s much easier to do when you aren’t face to face. When all you are doing is typing into the Internet and hiding behind your IP address shield. It’s a horrible feeling and it can do a lot of damage emotionally. More than people realize. I experience something a little similar to this recently myself and it caused me to completely shut down and not trust anyone. Instead of being the loud mouth advocate, I’m keeping to myself. It’s become very lonely, and it’s been very, very hard, but things like Facebook and Twitter begin to give you a sense of security and you begin to trust a little more than you should because you rely on the “friend of your friend” assumption. You are absolutely correct about the “cyber bouncers.” Most people assume that if so,etching like this is going to happen, it’s going to be by a stranger, but from my experience and the stories I’ve heard, and now yours, it’s really people a lot closer to us than we think, and I think THAT is the part that hurts the most.

  2. Julie AndersonJulie Anderson Post author

    Hi Sonny,
    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my Nightmare Facebook Friends article. I am sorry that you have been afflicted with the “disease” as well. Personally I think it is so scary to have the unknown infiltrate our virtual worlds. Scam artists seem to grow like weeds. You are right when you say that others will pop up in droves.
    I love that you said “keep the creeps at bay” … the only way we can do that unfortunately is if we go and live under a rock somewhere… UGH.

  3. Sonny Bohanan

    Hi Julie,

    What a nightmare! I’ve lately been victimized by FB “friends” that I’m certain I never accepted — because on FB I only friend those I know — yet they were somehow listed as friends. By tagging me they were able to post to my timeline even though I have set it to require my approval. I wonder if my account was hacked? I reported and blocked them and I hope their accounts have been taken down. These were fake accounts, I think.

    I hope the ones who were bothering you have been dealt with and banished. One thing we can count on is that others will follow to take their place with the latest scam. Twitter scams are rampant too.

    Thanks for your post. It was very timely and well-written. I hope you can keep the creeps at bay in the future!

    Best wishes,
    Sonny Bohanan

  4. Julie AndersonJulie Anderson Post author

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my personal freak show (Facebook) story. If only I had thought of your suggestion before jumping in!!! I do have a “professional page” … started it after the fact. OMG. Thanks for the help re settings. Facebook always changes the game re tools etc .. who can keep track. I agree with you as well re the vacation pics. What a no/no that is!
    Scary … more than scary … its bone chilling! Our children are the lab rats really, what will become of them? Have you heard of snap chat?
    Best- J

  5. Cinders

    I would recommend setting up a private personal page for only the people you really know and then a public professional page.

    In account settings, you can specify to review posts for approval prior to them posting your wall. I dislike that too!

    Yes I agree posts with detailed location are no bueno. I also think posting vacay pix should be done once you are back home. Who really wants to make a public announcement that they are out of town?!

    It is all pretty scary stuff. Even scarier is that our children have to navigate through these practically uncharted waters from early on.

  6. Julie AndersonJulie Anderson Post author

    Thank you for your kind words Nikki 🙂 I am so happy to hear that you caught the humor that rings my personal horror! “Intrusive” yes, we can certainly say that about social media!

  7. Julie AndersonJulie Anderson Post author

    Thanks SLM for your generous comment. I find your experience with your employer pushing the use of Twitter intrigues me. All forms of social media is wacky! As per texting, I agree with you on that one. Face to face is the best. Too bad we are scattered far and wide, hence Facebook ruling the web!

  8. Julie AndersonJulie Anderson Post author

    Thanks James for your comment. You are right, there is no refuge. I just wonder how these people have so much extra time on their hands to troll the net for unwitting victims?

  9. James Donahower

    It’s depressing that there is no refuge from creeps in the world, especially if you are female. And that cyber bullies operate with such impunity — as if their threats and harassment don’t count. But who knows? Maybe there’s a groundswell beginning right here with efforts like yours, Julie, and in the words of the mighty Sam Cooke: a change is gonna come.

  10. SLM

    WOW…great article and very well written. You are right that many of us, me included, watched you from afar. I remember I couldn’t wait to see you in print. I remember thinking how cool for you. I know that when a mutual friend got hurt so bad I was so hesitant to contact you via FB knowing it really isn’t a place to conduct private conversations, and I hadn’t spoken or seen you in years. But you were living in Australia (I believe) and I had no other venue to contact you. So I agree with you that social media, FB in particular, is double edge sword. I know as public school employee we are always cautioned about the use of social media. My school district is doing a HUGE push toward using Twitter for professional development. This social medium is even scarier to me and becomes more so every time I hear about a bullying incident (Ashley Judd). Don’t get me started on texting. For me personally I know that the use of texting has damaged some of my closest friendships. When in the past someone would pick up the phone and TALK now “business” is conducted via texting. Or worst yet I read a life altering where? On a FB status update. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy about your friendship, NOT. I am sorry but you just can’t replace good old face to face communication, old fashioned I know. Then on the other hand texting and other social media keeps me in the loop. This post is a result of a FB chat so what to do? It’s a conundrum.

  11. NikkiNikki

    I love love this, so well written, imbued with humor and most importantly the sad reality that social media as addictive as it may be can also be extremely intrusive! Great tips as well! Great job Julie!

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